Early signs are very positive

By Paul Traill 19/08/2018 21comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 1 Southampton
With Dan recently purchasing a shiny new set of wheels, he was quick to offer us all a lift to the game. Everything coordinated and connected pretty well, almost too well, as we, collectively, made our way to Goodison Park via North Wales, Brimstage, West Kirby and then Prenton. We did well to get to the pub, pint in hand by 1pm.

As always after a pre-season, it’s nice to get back to it and see everyone, especially when there is new-found optimism about what can be achieved on the pitch. Fair to say that pre-game everyone was rather satisfied with where we currently find ourselves. Let’s all hope our optimism is vindicated this time.

There were no big surprises or changes to the team with Mason Holgate continuing, impressively, in deputy of Phil Jagielka. It was nice to see the young players all feature on the substitutes bench. Southampton featured ex-Red Danny Ings amongst their line up, under ex-Blue Mark Hughes’s leadership.

Everton began the game impressively. I’m not sure if this is Marco Silva’s preferred style anyway, or if he is trying to take a leaf out of the book of Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and, yes, Jurgen Klopp, in forcing teams onto the back foot and blowing them away early in games. We didn’t quite “blow Southampton away”, but, despite a bad miss by Danny Ings, were very good value at the break for our two-goal advantage.

Our opening goal was a joy to watch. I can’t remember Everton ever being so slick and inventive from a free kick and it was a lovely well-worked and well-practised move that put us in front. Leighton Baines’s smooth pass inside to Morgan Schniederlin was deftly flicked on to Theo Walcott, who took a good touch before poking the ball past Alex McCarthy. A great goal by Everton.

Our second goal though much simpler, wasn’t bad either. Seamus Coleman found Theo Walcott down the right who crossed for Richarlison who got ahead of his marker and headed into the net to double our advantage. Great stuff by Everton and as we went into the break you had to be satisfied, and with four Southampton players already on yellow cards you wondered if the visitors could finish the game with 11 men on the field.

Southampton could only improve in the second half and that they did, though I felt Everton looked relatively comfortable in the 10 minutes or so until Danny Ings half-volleyed in easily from Mario Lemina’s knock down from a corner kick to half the deficit. I’ve a mate who’s a Watford fan and, naturally, asked him for the low-down on Marco Silva once he’d arrived. “You’ll love the football,” he said “but you’ll hate the way you defend corners”. Early days I know, but I can see what he means. Everything is zonal. This is something I’ve never really liked as, for me, zonal equals free headers, but let's see, and hope that his favoured method can be taken on board by the players and they can adopt it successfully.

Danny Ings's goal led to a jittery 35 minutes or so. I remember looking at the clock on about 63 minutes and thinking “Blimey, there’s a long way to go here”. Thankfully Everton managed the game well. We kept the ball and at the back; Mason Holgate particularly was able to empty most things that came his way, while Jordan Pickford came and made several good catches to relieve pressure.

I thought we’d put the game to bed and was up celebrating when Theo Walcott had the ball in the net, capping off what would have been a lovely flowing move when he netted Cenk Tosun’s clever pull-back, but the linesman had already flagged for offside.

A few minutes later Theo then had a golden chance to put us 3-1 ahead when he was teed up by the classy Gylfi Siggurdson, but he flashed this one wide of the post.

As we edged to victory we had a free kick in their final third and in taking it the referee realised the Southampton player was nowhere near the required yards away from the kicker and ordered a re-take. This killed more time and you felt that was probably it. Instead, inexplicably, with the retaken free-kick Idrissa Gana Gueye passed it straight to a Saints’ player and they broke well, and quickly. Down the other end of the pitch we managed to get the ball behind for a corner. Convinced a corner would mean a certain goal, I grimaced, though thankfully Lee Mason felt enough was enough and blew for full time.

A good and deserved win then with good football played at times. With our new players still to be integrated, you have to be excited about what we might be able to do this season. Win one of them shiny cups would be my preference and the nice League Cup draw we have against Rotherham United has to be taken seriously. But next up is Bournemouth away, and with two wins on the trot for the Cherries, plus two defeats on the trot for us at the Vitality Stadium; you’d say next weekend will be quite a challenge and a pretty good yardstick measurement of where we are so far this campaign.

A win would be a heck of a shot in the arm.

Player ratings:

Pickford: Spilled, though recovered, a routine save from Danny Ings in the first half but otherwise was pretty good. The talking point from Mark Hughes was that he should have been sent off for dangerous play in the second half. That’s not a red card for me. He catches him but you can’t say that’s deliberate, or especially dangerous despite what it did to Ings shirt. He’s not quite back up to speed yet following his World Cup exploits but will be there soon. 6
Baines: Had a good game and isn’t ready to relinquish that left back birth just yet. 7
Keane: Did okay. Got in the way of a few things. 6
Holgate: Did very well. From being thrown into the game at Wolves when many didn’t even think he was fit, he’s performed commendably. It’ll be interesting to see if his place in the team remains once Kurt Zouma, Yerry MIna and Phil Jagielka are available. 7
Coleman: He’ll have been very proud to have been made captain for the day and he didn’t do badly. 6
Gueye: Excellent defensively. Hunted players down and won numerous tackles. One of the better ones out there. 8
Schneiderlin: Had started quite well (including a nice assist) until limping off with a hamstring injury. Wanting to put last season’s torrid campaign behind him, he’ll be gutted to have come off injured having started the season brightly. 6
Richarlison: Took his goal nicely and he gets around the pitch very well. Needs time but will be a big hit I believe. Unfortunately I feel we’ll need to get used to his rolling around and making sure the play is stopped so he can receive treatment. That’s going to get frustrating. But otherwise, a great start. 7
Walcott: A well-taken goal and an assist. Should have scored another as well. Good work Theo. 7
Sigurdsson: Absolutely class. He had an outstanding game and showed a lot of leadership. He looks lean, fit and ready to play his part. Nice to see he, like many of the others with new and improved competition for places, that he won’t be moved easily. My Man of the Match. 8
Tosun: Led the line well albeit without getting many (any?) chances. I fancy him to have a good campaign. 7
Davies (for Schneiderlin): On to replace the injured Frenchman quite early in the game, Tom settled into the game quickly and had a good, steady, game. 7
Calvert-Lewin (for Tosun): Got involved quickly. I think Everton missed a trick not utilising his pace against a tiring back line. 6
Niasse (for Richarlison): Got involved and caused problems for them. Did well in the short time he had. 7

Reader Comments (21)

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Derek Knox
1 Posted 20/08/2018 at 08:19:04
Good article as per usual, Paul, still a trifle bemused as to the disallowed goal, I thought I would get a better assessment watching Match of the Day. They didn't even show it!

In fact, getting back to the MotD highlights, I felt it showed a very unfair representation of the actual match.

It appeared to those that had watched the whole game, or I would imagine to any neutrals, that Southampton were very unlucky to be on the losing side.

Andy McNabb
2 Posted 20/08/2018 at 08:25:52
Thanks for the report, Paul. Always enjoy your balanced view of things and makes me feel just that bit closer to the action.

Due to a family wedding, I am the only member of the family still over here. Everyone else is back in the UK and our oldest son, who after 17 years has got used to the relative comfort of sleeping through matches, both good and bad, said his heart was in his mouth every time Radio 5 went over to Goodison for an update.

Happy days! Had almost forgotten that feeling until he described it.

Keep the reports coming, mate.

Victor Yu
3 Posted 20/08/2018 at 09:09:39
Niasse was so awkward. He had a breakaway chance but stumbled and fumbled before getting the ball again. No doubt he is trying his best and we all appreciate his effort. But he simply isn't good enough.

We need another striker to go along with Tosun.

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 20/08/2018 at 09:10:16
Welcome back, Paul, very fair assessment of the game. It was looking easy at half-time but we made hard work of the second half against a team that, to me, will struggle again this season.

As for us, with five more new men to be introduced to the team, things can, hopefully, only get much better.

Nick Armitage
5 Posted 20/08/2018 at 12:38:48
Paul - another good summary, I agree with all your player ratings more so than the Echo.

I have said on here a few time times that I really rate Holgate. We want the best players playing for us but I'm a bit worried that a lack of game time may see him fade into obscurity when the new recruits bed in. I really hope he has a future at the club because he has the potential to be a top centre-half in the current game.

Brian Harrison
6 Posted 20/08/2018 at 13:04:57

I don't see how you could possibly give Tosun the same rating as Richarlison.

I know a lot of our fans say Tosun works hard, surely that should be a given; for me, he is to slow to play in a pacy front 3. He is easily out-muscled as he was last season and isn't great in the air. I think Silva will play Richarlison up top as, for me, he has all the attributes of a centre-forward.

Now if we hope to get into the top 6, then top 4, the question we should ask about every signing is: On a good day, would he get into one of the top 6 or top 4? I couldn't see Tosun getting on the bench for any of the top 6 sides –never mind starting a game.

Saurabh Mhatre
7 Posted 20/08/2018 at 14:29:04

I do not agree with your views on Tosun. Yes, he is a slow pony in our attack, but makes up for that with his great finishing, intelligent passing, improvement in possession play and engaging defenders to free up our other attackers.
Your argument sounds like an ungrateful Martinez supporter commenting on Benzema.

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 20/08/2018 at 14:59:48
Saurabh (7), I'm not convinced about Tosun. I will give him more time but to compare him with Benzema is a gigantic leap.
Jeff Armstrong
9 Posted 20/08/2018 at 18:30:03
Does anyone have an example where zonal marking has been employed by a team/manager and actually ran with it season after season?

All I can think of is fans/pundits/players all criticising it and it slowly disappearing from one team until the next bright spark starts using it, is it going to take a shed load of set-piece goals against before Marco Silva dispenses with it?

John Pierce
10 Posted 20/08/2018 at 18:30:50
Paul, an assessment very close to my own judgement. Sigurdsson was the stand out for sure, right place, right pass, with the appreciation of weight, always a threat from set pieces.

We have enough movement and pace around him for Siggy to excel.

The defensive aspect is not to be unexpected. Silva plays a high risk strategy here. The high line will mitigate many teams but when a through ball or mistake happens it will always yield a clear chance. It’s imperative that the defends have pace and are at their best 1v1.

It’s a similar story with the zonal, incorrectly applied it yields clear cut chances, players are left stationary with no momentum to react allowing their opponents first crack.

But ultimately in a very short time Silva has made us a goal threat and a team that can transition, each opponent must now respect that. The net result is we will get more space in a game.

His style will perhaps impact CF the most. We are going to need a worker, with movement to get the most out of the three behind him.

Can I see Richarlison/Walcott playing there when Bernard comes in with Cenk dropping back? Absolutely.

John G Davies
11 Posted 20/08/2018 at 18:43:10
Grant Rorrison
13 Posted 20/08/2018 at 19:05:08
John 12. That guy didn't even last a full year in the job! They were known for their defensive solidity under Clement though. I remember Mourinho commenting on it after United had beat them 4 nil at the start of last season.
Jeff Armstrong
14 Posted 20/08/2018 at 19:08:55
John G, yeh but apart from zonal marking,scintillating attacking football, umpteen titles,what has Pep ever given the game?? .
John G Davies
15 Posted 20/08/2018 at 19:13:38

Sorry mate, which guy?

Grant Rorrison
16 Posted 20/08/2018 at 19:16:42
Paul Clement.
John G Davies
17 Posted 20/08/2018 at 19:20:19
My point was Guardiola's use of zonal marking, Grant.
Grant Rorrison
18 Posted 20/08/2018 at 19:26:36
John 17. Oh... Yeah, he's done alright I suppose. :)
Jack Convery
19 Posted 20/08/2018 at 22:39:06
The aqueduct.
James Lauwervine
20 Posted 21/08/2018 at 10:06:34
Derek (#1),

I agree completely re the MotD coverage, but then there's nothing new there. I was listening to the evertonfc.com commentary with Dazza and Snods (love those two) and, apart from a few late moments of unease, we seemed much the better team and should have won more comfortably.

Mark Hughes as a manager is simply a moaning failure who blames everyone and everything except himself and his team. He repeatedly fucks up and is sacked and then saunters into another highly-paid job – football is truly bizarre that way. For him to blame the ref and suggest Pickford should have been sent off is just ridiculous. I bet at school he was the kid who always said 'It wasn't me sir, it was him'.

Gerry Quinn
21 Posted 22/08/2018 at 17:21:05
Very interesting look at the new vs old Everton stats on here...

Slowly but surely: How Marco Silva is changing Everton

John McGimpsey
22 Posted 25/08/2018 at 17:09:29
Oh dear Tom Davies a passenger and liability again.

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